Buried alive: My journey to rediscovering Islam

Ever since I could remember, I have always lived my life the way I wanted to. Born into a somewhat liberal Muslim family, I was made to attend Sunday school and Quran recital classes (like any other born Muslim). I’ve never, at that point, seen my parents pray and my father never led a family jema’ah. We were a rather agnostic family, from what I saw. At 13, my life had fallen apart. My father had bounced and well, things just changed for us. From there, my mother went from being the disciplinarian to the mom-friend that every kid yearns to have.
I had the freedom most of my friends envied. Whenever I didn’t feel like coming home on time, I’d just tell my mother where I was and she’d let me be. She trusted us and gave us adult rights probably way before we were ready just because she was afraid of losing us. I was still wary of what’s haram and halal at that point because you were always told, “if you don’t follow, then Allah will punish you and throw you in Hell. Bad things will happen to you.”Eventually though, you will, as an adventurous teenager; start to test the waters. You test it with something small, like eating non-halal chicken then move on to something big like relationships. After a while, the so-called “foundation” that my parents had given me on Islam from birth to 8 years old were all but gone.
At 25, after living a life of complete recklessness, I hit what you’d call ‘rock bottom’. I was doing everything that would be deemed as “fun”. I did everything that was supposed to make me happy, and for a while, I really thought I was. I noticed however that I was always upset at the end of the day. I was always depressed at the end of the night. I needed something else, a supplementary substance to make me fall asleep at night.
Religion was the last thing I would have thought of. Being born a Muslim was a burden to me. I got annoyed and angry at anybody who tried to talk about God or Muhammad or anything to do with Islam to me. They were always so harsh and judgmental. They would always tell me off about the way I dress and what I did that will eternally condemn me to Hellfire. I tried to grasp at the concept of a “loving God” but couldn’t due to the ignorance and hate I saw all around me from the people who came from the religion that I was “born” into. It is no excuse on my part, but those being the worst of human beings (in beards and hijab) did not help the cause.
I had started becoming part & parcel of this culture & society. I wanted desperately to just hang on to the bits of happiness that I got from the wrong places. I gravitated towards wanting to be just like everybody else and for a while there I went through some very, very dark stages. I had hit a depression & a loneliness that refused to go away regardless of what I did to numb it.
Then a door opened to me in a form of a friend, who is now my best friend. At hindsight, he was probably my 100th sign from Allah SWT to come back to Him. He helped me achieve this change through simply being a friend. As usual, I had tried to shut him up and got annoyed whenever he brought up religion. Then after gaining my friendship, he told me something so simple.
“You are my sister in Islam and I don’t want you to fall and that is why I beg you to just try to read just ONE salat.”
So truth be told, I had first went back to salat just for the sole purpose of shutting him up. I had no intention whatsoever to follow through with it. Alhamdulillah, I can’t thank Allah enough for the hidayah He showed me when I begrudgingly made that ONE salah. With God’s will, I felt like suddenly my mind and my heart started to open up to the idea & sense of belonging to the One God.
That’s when my spiritual journey began. I started searching for God in all kinds of places. And just like that, things have just started to fall into place. I almost immediately felt a sense of peace in my heart that was lost before.
The door had opened, and I left pretty much my whole life behind and never looked back. What I have realised since I took this journey, is that I was lost. I had lost my sense of purpose in this life. Then while trying to find peace & happiness, I sank even deeper because instead of taking the pain of my life and coming back to Allah SWT, I went to all the wrong places.
Allah says in the Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 7, “God has set a seal upon their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a covering. For them is a mighty punishment (in the Hereafter).”
This ayat always hit home for me simply because I realise that He could have. Allah SWT could have taken me home when jahannam was a surety for me. Allah SWT could have closed my heart. He could have sealed it SHUT. He could have. He did not. He gave me chance after chance after chance and I finally, FINALLY took it. I urge all of you who are lost and looking for a purpose to just try it. Raise your hands and sincerely ask Allah SWT for guidance. As Allah SWT for nothing else but guidance.
Rumi said, “I looked for God. I went to a temple and I didn’t find him there. Then I went to a church and I didn’t find him there. Then I went to a mosque and I didn’t find him there. Then finally I looked in my heart and there he was.”
I guess all I’m trying to say is…I’m just, thankful. I truly am.